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I happened to stop in the library of a community library the other day. It looked gorgeous. It was bright and open with lots of couches and armchairs. I walked around looking for the books and only found a small area of about half a dozen rows of books.
I thought there must be other stacks somewhere else. I walked up the librarian and asked where their local history area was. She took me back to the shelves and pointed out the small area to me. I asked her where the other books were.
She said that the shelves held all of the physical books they had. The rest of their library was digital. So this community college has a library that is smaller than the library of the typical elementary school.
I was floored by this.
I am not against ebooks. I read them and listen to them often. However, when I research, I like having the book open in front of me (usually multiple books).
The librarians seemed unconcerned that they were nearly all digital, but I know a lot of the books that I use for research are not available in a digital form. They are too old and aren’t seen as having enough interest to justify digitizing them. I’ve also heard people complain about modern texts being digital because their layouts can be awkward to use, particularly if there are charts and other graphics in the book. These are just the types of books that I would expect to find in a college library.
The small liberal arts college near my house has a nice multi-floor library with some of the floors filled nearly entirely with books.
I’m not saying that e-books don’t belong in a college library, but it seems that in the case of the community college, the physical books were sacrificed.
Am I wrong in thinking this? What are your thoughts?
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